Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. has been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Koneswaram Temple, Trincomalee

Koneswaram Temple
Koneswaram Temple (also known as Thirukkoneswaram Kovil) is a famous Hindu Kovil/temple in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. The temple has been built on the top of a rock situated on the brink of the sea and can be reached through the main entrance of Fort Fredrick. Koneswaram is traditionally considered as one of the ancient Saiva shrines in Sri Lanka.

The origin of the Koneswaram temple is obscure (Gunasingam, 1975). However, its history can be combined with the nearby Trincomalee harbor, one of the ancient sea-ports in the country. Trincomalee was a well-known harbor in the region and Koneswaram may have been built on this sea-port to fulfill the religious needs of the Hindus of the area as well as the merchants who landed at the port. The Indian Hindu text Vayu Purana (this ancient work is generally assigned to the first half of the 1st-millennium A.D.) mentions about a temple of Siva named Gokarneswaram located on the eastern coast of an island (Gunasingam, 1975).
"30. In that island, on the eastern shore of the sea there is Gokarna, the great shrine of Sankara."
Reference: Tagare, 1987. p.311. 
This Siva temple is believed by some as the present Koneswaram temple (Gunasingam, 1975).

The Sri Lankan Pali chronicle Mahawamsa refers to the existence of a temple of God on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka during the reign of King Mahasena [(277-304 A.D.) Gunasingam, 1975]. According to Mahawamsa (Chapter XXXVII: 40-41), King Mahasena founded three Buddhist Viharas at Gokanna, Erakavilla, and Brahman Kalnda by destroying the temples of Brahmanical gods (Geiger, 1912). The Mahavamsa Tika reveals that the Gokanna Vihara was on the coast of the eastern sea while the other two in the region of Rohana (Geiger, 1912). The Gokarna temple of Mahawamsa is thought to be the same one mentioned by Vayu Purana (Gunasingam, 1975).

Daksina Kailasa Manmiam, a section of the Sanskrit Skanda Purana (about 8th century A.D.) mentions that from very ancient times nine sacred shrines were famous for the Hindus. Among them, two were in Sri Lanka namely Koneswaram and Tiruketheeswaram (Navaratnam, 1998).

A slab inscription known as the Nilaveli record was found within the premises of Pillayar temple in Nilaveli, a small town located 14 km northwest of the Trincomalee town (Gunasingam, 1975). This record contains 14 lines of writing indited in an admixture of Grantha and Tamil characters and has been dated to the early 11 century A.D.; the beginning of the Cola rule in Sri Lanka (Gunasingam, 1975). According to Gunasingam, the palaeography of this inscription very closely resembles that of the periods of Rajaraja I (c. 985-1014 A.D.) and Rajendra I [(c. 1014-1044 A.D.) Gunasingam, 1975].

This inscription records about a donation of two hundred and fifty Veli of irrigated and unirrigated lands to a temple named Maccakesvaram at Tirukonamalai (present Trincomalee) to meet its daily expenses (Gunasingam, 1975). The Maccakesvarama temple, referred to in the inscription, is said to be the present Koneswaram temple (Gunasingam, 1975).

Besides the Nilaweli inscription, another reference to the Koneswaram is found in the Manankeni inscription of Cola Illankesvaradeva, the representative of Sri Lanka of Cola King Rajendra I (Gunasingam, 1975).

Portuguese Period
The Koneswaram temple was looted in 1624 by Portuguese and was completely demolished by Constantine de Sa in order to employ its materials for the building of the fort (Navaratnam, 1998). Some of the statues in the temple were taken by locals to Thambalagamuwa where later a temple to the lord of Koneswaram (Ati Konanayakar Temple) was built by King Rajasinha II [(1635-1687 A.D.) Navaratnam, 1998].

Dutch and British occupation
During the Dutch occupation of Trincomalee, the site was not allowed for the public to perform their religious activities (Navaratnam, 1998). However, the permission was given to them by the British when they displaced the Dutch in 1795 (Navaratnam, 1998).

Present temple
The present Koneswaram temple was constructed by the Hindus on 3 March 1963.

In 1944, two images of Vishnu and Lakshmi were unearthed inside the fort area (Navaratnam, 1998). Several bronzes of deities such as Ganesha (standing) and Parvati (seated, standing), Siva (seated), and Chandrasegara were also discovered from the site, later (Navaratnam, 1998).

A fragmentary slab-inscription of the reign of Rajaraja I
Koneswaram inscription

Reign       : King Rajaraja I (985-1014 A.D.)
Period      : 10th-11th centuries A.D.
Scripts      : Medieval Tamil
Language : Medieval Tamil

This inscribed fragmentary slab was discovered in 1961, by under-water explorers who searched antiquities of the demolished temple at the bed of the nearby sea (Gunasingam, 1979). It is presently preserved in the premises of the Koneswaram Temple.

The remaining slab is about one foot long and six inches wide and contains 9 lines of writing (Gunasingam, 1979). A portion of the meykkirtti (prasasti) of King Rajaraja I (a South Indian king who reigned from 985 to 1014 A.D.) is found recorded on the slab (Gunasingam, 1979).

Lovers' Leap or Ravana's Cleft at Swami Rock temple entrance. baby cots
1) This image (Koneswaram inscription Pandyan era) has been released into the public domain by its creator, Dushipillai.

1) Geiger, W., 1912. The Mahavamsa or The Great Chronicle of Ceylon, translated into English by assisted by Mabel Haynes Bode. p.270.
2) Gunasingam, S., 1979. Trincomalee inscriptions series, No. 2: Three Cola inscriptions from Trincomalee. Published by the author. Peradeniya. pp.1-3.
3) Gunasingam, S., 1975. A Tamil slab inscription at Nilaveli. The Ceylon Journal of the Humanities. Colombo. pp.61–71.
4) Navaratnam, C.S., 1998. Koneswaram: A temple of a thousand columns. North-East Sri Lanka- A compendium: 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka's independence 1948-1998. North-East Provincial Council. pp.159-171.
5) Tagare, G.V., 1987. The Vayu Purana: Part I. UNESCO collection of representative works: India series. p.311.

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Parakrama Samudra, Polonnaruwa

Parakrama Samudra
Parakrama Samudra (lit: Sea of Parakrama) is a large man-made irrigation reservoir located near the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

Parakrama Samudraya is said to be a result of connecting three original reservoirs (Schiemer, 2012). The northernmost reservoir is the oldest and referred to as Topa Wewa (Schiemer, 2012). Chronicles mention that Topa Wewa was constructed during the reign of King Upatissa I [(365-406 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963]. The middle part represents the Eramudu Wewa and the southernmost part is the Dumbutula Wewa. The middle and southern parts of the reservoir were constructed during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great [(1153-1183 A.D.) Schiemer, 1981]. The dam of the middle part was destroyed in 1854 and the area subsequently swallowed by the forest (Schiemer, 1981). In 1945, the dam was reconstructed (Schiemer, 1981).

The reservoir
This shallow reservoir (Z max= 12.7 m) which is extending in an area about 25.5 km2 is considered as one of the larger reservoir of an ancient irrigation system (Schiemer, 2012). It has a natural catchment area of about 75 km2 located on the western side of the lake (Schiemer, 2012). The same side is bordered by the Sudukanda ridge (Schiemer, 2012). The reservoir is mainly fed by a channel from the Amban Ganga river and the inflow is regulated by the anicut at Angamedilla (Schiemer, 2012).
  • Reservoir data

    Length of bund : 12.38 km
    Bund height (Max.) : 9.45 m
    Catchment area : 71.71 km2
    Area at full supply level : 2539.50 Ha.
    Capacity at f. s. l. : 134.07x106 m3
    Dead storage : 18.45x106 m3
  • Sluice & spill data

    No of sluices : Three - (I), (II), (III)
    Sill level : [(I) 51.51 m, (II) 51.82 m, (III) 51.82 M.S.L.]
    Max discharge : (I) 13.02 m3/s, (II) 4.53 m3/s, (III) 1.41 m3/s.
    Spills : Natural (N) and Radial gates (RG)
    Sill level : (N) 59.30 m, (RG) 59.15 m
    Length : (N) 121.96 m, (RG) 30.48 m

1) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.174.
2) Schiemer, F., 1981. Parakrama Samudra (Sri Lanka) Project, a study of a tropical lake ecosystem I. An interim review: With 3 figures and 1 table in the text. Internationale Vereinigung für theoretische und angewandte Limnologie: Verhandlungen, 21(2), pp.987-993.
3) Schiemer, F., 2012. Limnology of Parakrama Samudra—Sri Lanka: A case study of an ancient man-made lake in the tropics (Vol. 12). Springer Science & Business Media. pp.1,4-5.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Dipa Uyana, Polonnaruwa

Deepa Uyana
Dipa Uyana (lit: the Island Park) is an archaeological site situated in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. 

This site has been identified as the Dipa Uyana (the Island Park) built by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.). It is said that Parakramabahu I built several building within it such as Dhavalagharaya (the White edifice), Vijjamandapa, Dolamandapa (the Swing Pavilion), Kilamandapa (the Sports Pavilion), Sanimandapa (the Pavilion of Saturn), Moramandapa (the Peacock Pavilion), Adasamandapa (the Mirror Pavilion), Singaravimana, and ponds named Anantapokkharani and Cittapokkharani [(the Picture Pond) Nicholas, 1963]. This site was reserved for the use of the king and the court (Nicholas, 1963).

However, the ruins of the buildings presently found on the premises of Dipa Uyana are not comparable with any of the buildings mentioned above (Nicholas, 1963). It has been proved that King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.) considerably altered the initial arrangement of Dipa Uyana constructed by Parakramabahu I (Nicholas, 1963). A few inscriptions erected by Nissankamalla in the Dipa Uyana premises reveal the identity of two buildings; viz: the Council Chamber of Nissankamalla and a stone bathing pond that had been used by him (Nicholas, 1963). Also, an inscription found on a stone slab records that it was the seat used by Nissankamalla while watching dancing and listening to music in the Kalinga Uyana (the Kalinga Park). If this stone slab is still stands in its original location and not has been moved to here from elsewhere, then it has to be assumed that the Dipa Uyana was renamed the Kalinga Park by Nissankamalla (Nicholas, 1963).

The site
The site is located to the west of the walls of the Palace of Parakramabahu the Great and extends up to the verge of the Parakrama Samudra reservoir (Wikramagamage, 2004). The ruins of many important monuments including the Council Chamber and the Audience Hall of Nissankamalla are located within this premises. To the extreme south of the site is a bathing pond which could be the Ananta Naga Pokuna (Anantapokkharani) built by King Parakramabahu the Great. The water to the pond had been supplied from the Parakrama Samudra reservoir by using a conduit (Wikramagamage, 2004). The ruins of a building, probably a summer house is found on a small nearby island located in the Parakrama Samudra reservoir (Wikramagamage, 2004). 

1) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). pp.176-177.
2) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.204-205.

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A short note for local school students
දීප උයන

දීප උයන ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ පොළොන්නරුව පුරාණ නගරයේ පිහිටි පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්ථානයකි.

මෙම පුරාණ නටඹුන් වූ පරිශ්‍රය මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජු (ක්‍රි.ව. 1153-1186) විසින් ඉදිකරනු ලැබූ දීප උයන ලෙස හඳුනාගෙන ඇත. නිශ්ශංක මල්ල රජු (ක්‍රි.ව. 1187-1196) සිය රාජ සභා මණ්ඩපය මෙම උයනේ ඉදිකල අතර එය කාලිංග උයන ලෙස නම්කරන ලදී.

මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජුගේ මාළිගයට බටහිරින් පිහිටන මෙම උද්‍යාන පරිශ්‍රය පරාක්‍රම සමුද්‍රය අද්දර (මායිම) දක්වා විහිදී පවතී. නිශ්ශංකමල්ල රාජ සභා මණ්ඩපය ඇතුලු වැදගත් ස්මාරක රැසක් මෙම පරිශ්‍රය තුල පිහිටයි. මෙහි දකුණුදිශා අන්තයෙහි නාන තටාකයක් වන අතර එය මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජු විසින් තැනූ අනන්ත නාග පොකුණ විය හැකිය. දිය අගලක් භාවිතයෙන් මෙම පොකුණට පරාක්‍රම සමුද්‍රය ඔස්සේ ජලය සපයාගෙන ඇත. ගිම්හාන නිවස්නයක විය හැකි නටඹුන් සහිත කුඩා දූපතක් මේ ආසන්නයේම පරාක්‍රම සමුද්‍රයෙහි පිහිටා තිබේ.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Naigala Raja Maha Viharaya

Naigala Viharaya
Naigala Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in Weeraketiya in Hambantota District, Sri Lanka.

Naigala Viharaya
The ruins of many ancient structures and monuments such as pillared buildings, Siri Pathul Gal (the Buddha's footprint), urinal stones, Korawak Gal (balustrades), molded stone slabs, Sandakada Pahana (moonstone), Yupa stones (stone pillar of a Stupa) have been found from the Naigala temple. A two-storied image house that belonging to the Anuradhapura period was excavated and conserved in 2013, by the Department of Archaeology. The building is quadrangle in shape and had been built as an image house of Gandhakuti tradition. The Buddha image is believed to be placed in the center of this building.

Among the ruins, there is a carved circular-shaped stone vessel. It is believed that this artifact could be one of vessels that used to hide the Tooth Relic of the Buddha by Sugala Devi during the Polonnaruwa Period.

Besides the structural ruins, two rock inscriptions dating back to the 3rd-5th centuries A.D. have also been found in the temple premises.

Naigala rock inscription no. 1 
Naigala rock inscriptions
This rock inscription was copied by the Department of Archaeology in 1929 (Dias, 1991).
Period: 3rd-4th centuries A.D.
Scripts: Later Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Content: This inscription records about a gift of Kahapanas given for the festival of Ariyavansa at Kala-pavata (Kala Parvata) monastery. The inscription can not be read completely due to its worn condition.
Reference: Dias, 1991.

Naigala rock inscription no. 2
Naigala rock inscriptions
Period: 4th-5th centuries A.D.
Script: Later Brahmi
Language: Old Sinhala
Content: The slaves of the Kala-pavata (Kala Parvata) temple were freed from their compulsory service by the monk of Mahawaka who donated one hundred Kahavanu coins. The merit of this action was to be shared by all beings
References: The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage. 

Modern image house
The modern image house of the Naigala temple has a number of paintings and sculptures belonging to the Kandyan style. It has been built in 1880.

A protected site
The ancient monuments of Naigala Purana Vihara (marked in the land plots 9c, 10 & 11 of the village plan no. 244) situated in the village of Agrahara in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Weeraketiya are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 4 June 2004.

Naigala temple Naigala Viharaya Naigala temple Naigala Viharaya
1) Dias, M., 1991. Epigraphical notes (Nos 1 -18). Colombo: Department of Archaeology. pp. 71,75.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1344. 4 June 2004. p.15.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Maligatenna Aranya Senasanaya

Maligatenna Aranya Senasanaya
Maligatenna Viharaya/ Aranya Senasanaya is a Buddhist temple/ a forest monastery located in Malwathuhiripitiya village in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka.

Maligatenna Viharaya
A large number of drip-ledged caves have been found from the temple premises. They are believed to be there as the abodes of Buddhist monks since the B.C. era. The other cave temples located in the vicinity of the Maligatenna Viharaya such as Uruwala, Pilikuttuwa, Varana, Miriswatta, and Koskandawala also have archaeological evidence dating back to the pre-Christian era and therefore, it has been assumed that this cluster of cave temples including the Maligatenna have existed as one major cave site during the early part of the Anuradhapura Period.

In one of the caves, a decorated stone door-frame has been found. Depending on its morphological features some believe that it is a work belongs to the 8th century A.D. Besides that, on the surface of the summit of the Maligatenna rock, a number of rock-carved holes used to install the pillars (probably the pillars of an ancient structure) have been identified. A Bodhi-tree surrounded by a rampart is also found on the rock summit.

The present temple and the forest monastery was established in this ancient site in 1924 with the efforts of a Buddhist monk named Menikdivela Sri Devananda Thera.

Maligatenna Viharaya
As mentioned in the legends related to the cave temples of Pilikuttuwa and Asgiriya, the caves of the Maligatenna temple are also said to be used by King Valagamba as a hideout during the reign of the Five Dravidians (five Indian invaders who ruled Anuradhapura Kingdom from 103 to 88 B.C.). It is also believed by the locals that the Tooth Relic of the Buddha which was in the custody of Hiripitiye Diyawadana Nilame was kept here before it was carried to the temple at Delgamuwa during the 16th century A.D..

A protected site
The rock caves in the lower courtyard and the pathway wall in the upper courtyard and flight of steps known as Degaldoruwa of the Maligatenna Aranya Senasana situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 297-Malwathuhiripitiya, in the Mahara Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Maligatenna temple Maligatenna Viharaya Maligatenna Aranya Senasanaya
1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.533.

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Buddha Walawwa, Nagadeepa

Buddha Walawwa Viharaya
Buddha Walawwa Viharaya is a small Buddhist temple located about 950 m away from the Purana Nagadeepa Viharaya on the island of Nagadeepa (Tamil: Nainativu), Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

Buddha Walawwa statue
Locals believe that Buddha Walawwa was one of the places visited by Manimekalai, a Buddhist nun who is mentioned in Manimekalai, a great epic of the Indian Tamil literature composed in about the 6th century. According to Manimekalai, the Buddhist nun Manimekalai was taken without her knowledge to the island of Manipallawam (believed to be present Nagadeepa/Nainativu island) by a goddess named Manimekhala. On the island, Manimekalai found herself alone and confused by this sudden happening. But later she experienced a series of incidents related to the Buddha, and several other miraculous things (Manimekalai: Cantos VIII-XI).

In the present day, there are some places on this island with the names related to the Buddha such as Buddha Pallanka, Buddha Thottam, and Buddha Karni. The Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya, the main Buddhist shrine in Nagadeepa reveals the strong relation of the island to the Buddha. According to the Pali chronicle Mahawamsa, the Buddha visited Nagadeepa after five years of attaining Enlightenment to settle a dispute that occurred between two Naga kings, Chulodara and Mahodara. The Tamil epic Manimekhalai also describes the Buddha's intervene in settling a dispute between two Naga princes over a gem-set throne seat on an island known as Manipallavam.

The temple site
The present temple has been built on a land where a stone sculptured Buddha statue was unearthed. The land was originally a property of a Tamil man and later it was bought from him by a Buddhsit monk named Dhammakittitissa Thera.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya

Yathurugehuliyadda temple
Yathurugehuliyadda Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple located in Mawela village in Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka.

According to folklore, this area has been used by Prince Dutugemunu (reigned: ) for the threshing of paddy from the fields cultivated by him at Rajatalawela (Abeywardana, 2004). It is said that the Kulla (winnowing fan) thrown by the prince was fallen on this spot (Abeywardana, 2004). In the paddy farming lexicon, Kulla is called Yathura and therefore, the name of this area, Yathurugehuliyadda, may have some relation with there folklore.

The temple
Yathurugahuliyadda temple
The present temple consists of a Stupa, an image house, a preaching hall, a Bodh-tree, and monk dwellings. Among them, the image house and the preaching hall are considered as archaeologically important monuments. The image house is thought to be a work belonging to the Kandyan Period (Wijesinghe, 2015). It has been built on an elevated platform and has two sections: the inner shrine and the outer ambulatory. The ambulatory is open but bounded with a half-height wall.

The walls of the ambulatory are covered with paintings depicting the Jataka stories and episodes related to the hell (Wijesinghe, 2015). The front wall is decorated with sculpted Makara Thorana (the dragon arch) accompanied by the figures of deities, guardians and lions. Above the entrance door, the date 2454 B.E (1910 A.D.) is mentioned. This date may represents its construction or the last restoration date.

The inner shrine also contains paintings and sculptures of the Kandyan style. A Samadhi Buddha statue, a few standing statues, deities such as Visnu, Saman, Kataragama and Dedimunda are found in the shrine room (Wijesinghe, 2015).

Besides the main monuments, a few granite artifacts including a large carved Siri Pathul Gala (the footprint of the Buddha) and granite oil lamps are found in the temple premises.

A protected site
The ancient Buddha shrine, the Dhamma discourse hall and ancient monuments of the Yathurugasu Liyedde Vihara situated in Maswela village in the Grama Niladhari Division of Maswela, in Kotmale Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

Yathurugehuliyadda temple Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya Yathurugehuliyadda Viharaya
1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  p.233.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.526.
3) Wijesinghe, T.K., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Nuwara Eliya Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-36-4. pp.64-65.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Maradana Railway Station

Maradana Railway Station
Maradana Railway Station is considered as one of the earliest railway stations in Sri Lanka (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

In the 19th century, the British rulers commenced the railway service in Sri Lanka for planters to facilitate the transportation of their harvest from inland to the seaport located in Colombo (Kesavan et al., 2015). On 3 August 1858, the then Ceylon Governor, Henry George Ward (1855-1860 A.D.) commenced the construction of the first railway line in the country to be run between Colombo and Ambepussa (Abeysinghe, 2016). After the completion, the first train transportation happened between Colombo and Ambepussa on 27 December 1864 (Abeysinghe, 2016).

Besides the stations at Colombo (presently known as Colombo Terminus Railway Station) and Ambepussa, three more stations at Mahara (present Ragama), Henarathgoda (present Gampaha) and Veyangoda were completed along the railway line in 1866 (CGR, 1964). In 1867, the railway station at Peradeniya was built.

Maradana Railway Station
The history of the Maradana railway station can be traced up to the late 19th century. At the time Maradana was a rural area and only a few buildings were there including the Maradana Mosque and the old army barrack that had been established on the land where the present Maradana Police Station stands. In 1887, a 12 ft x 8 ft sized wooden-framed room was installed at Maradana as a station for issuing the rail tickets and on 12 June 1893, it was upgraded to a complete railway station (Manathunga, 2016). The location of the station became more important when the Coastal Line was built in 1897 and as a result of that the station was more developed by constructing the present Maradana railway station building. The construction of the building was commenced in 1905 and declared open in 1908 as the main railway station in the country (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Manathunga, 2016). The construction works of the building was, however, fully finished in 1910.

Maradana was the main railway station in the country until the Colombo Fort Railway Station was built in 1917 (Manathunga, 2016).

The building
The railway station building has been designed accordance to the English Renaissance style (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). The central tower with four clocks on each side is the most prominent feature of the building (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

The station
The present railway station consists of 10 platforms.
          Platform 1 & 2   - Main line and Puttalam line trains
          Platform 3 & 4   - Main line and Puttalam line trains
          Platform 5 & 6   - Coastal line trains, rest rooms, toilets, cafeteria, control rooms and offices
          Platform 7 & 8   - Coastal line trains
          Platform 9 & 10 - Coastal line and Kelani Valley line trains

Maradana Railway Station Maradana Railway Station
1) SL Colombo asv2020-01 img35 Maradana station by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3
2) SL Colombo asv2020-01 img33 Maradana station by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3
3) SL Colombo asv2020-01 img34 Maradana station by A.Savin is under the Free Art License 1.3

1) Abeysinghe, A.H.M.S.P., 2016. ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ දුම්රිය කාර්මික පුරාවිද්‍යාව; නව මානයක් කරා රැගෙන යමු. Puraveda 2016.
2) CGR, 1964. Ceylon Government Railway : One hundred years, 1864-1964, Colombo. p.19.
3) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4.  p.175.
4) Kesavan, R.A., Chandrakumar, C., Kulatunga, A.K., Gowrynathan, J., Rajapaksha, R.T.D., Senewiratne, R.K.G.D.M. and Laguleshwaran, D., 150 Years of Sri Lankan Railways: Evaluation of the Services from Employee and Customer Perspectives. International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering. Volume 5, Issue 5.
5) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.61-62.

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Thursday, March 19, 2020


Bathalegala (also known as Bible Rock) is a rock located in Hathgampola in the Aranayaka Division, Kegalle District, Sri Lanka (Abeyawardana, 2002). Rising to a height of about 2618 ft (797.96 m) above sea level, the rock has presently become a popular place suitable for hiking (Abeyawardana, 2002).

The rock is triangular in shape when it is viewed from the Aranayaka area (Abeyawardana, 2002). During the British Period (British Ceylon: 1815-1948 A.D.), the rock is called the Bible Rock because it has an appearance similar to the shape of a book/Bible (Abeyawardana, 2002). However, the view from Balana near the famous Kadugannawa Tunnel on the Colombo-Kandy main road is very popular among the people as it instantly remind everyone the shape of the more famous Sigiriya rock.

According to folklore, Batalegala has got its name because, a pot of rice has turned to blood red color at this spot (Abeyawardana, 2002). In the Sinhala Language Batalegala can be interpreted as; Bata (rice): le (blood): gala (the rock). However, another story suggests that the rock so named because it resembles the shape of a sweet potato (Abeyawardana, 2002).

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. pp.76-77.

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Devanagala Raja Maha Viharaya

Devanagala temple
Devanagala Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple situated in the Mawanella area in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka.

This site is called Devanagala because it is believed by the folk that this is the place that deity Dedimunda has visited for the second occasion. In the Sinhalese Language, the word Devana means second and Gala means rock. However, another theory suggests that it is so named because it is the second-largest rock in the area after the Bathalegala rock.

Devanagala ViharayaThe history of Devanagala is expanding from the Prehistoric Period to the Kandyan Period. Archaeological evidence dating back to the prehistoric period have been found from the site (Aregama, 2018).

The Buddhist temple on the Devanagala rock is believed to be the Dasen Vehera built during the reign of King Dhatusena (460-479 A.D.) of Anuradhapura Era (Aregama, 2018). However, the Devanagala inscription by King Wimaladharmasooriya I (1592–1604 A.D.) says that the monastery on this rock was founded in 2110 B.E. (1566 A.D.) by a Buddhist monk named Ratanalankara (Ranawella, 2015).

The Tempita Viharaya of Devanagala temple is said to be constructed during the Kandyan period by King Wimaladharmasooriya I (Abeyawardana, 2002). It is believed that the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was kept in Devanagala temple secretly for a period of three months (Abeyawardana, 2002).

Devanagala inscriptions
A number of Buddhist monuments including an old Buddha shrine (Gal Viharaya or Parana Viharaya), a Tempita Viharaya (the temple on pillars), a Stupa, a preaching hall, a Siri Pathula (the footprint of the Buddha), a pond, and a Bodhi-tree are found in the present temple premises (Silva et al., 2016). Mainly two rock inscriptions, one dating back to the Polonnaruwa Period and the other to the Kandyan Period have also been found (Silva et al., 2016). 

Devanagala rock inscription of Parakramabahu I
Among the two inscriptions found in Devanagala, the one belongs to the Polonnaruwa Period is considered a very important record (Paranavitana, 1933). It mentions about a grant of a village by King Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.) to a military chief named Kit-nuwaragal Senevi (Kitti Nagaragiri) who succeeded in a war against Myanmar (Paranavitana, 1933).

Reign  : Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 A.D.)
Period : 12th century A.D.
Script  : Mediaeval Sinhala
Language : Mediaeval Sinhala
Content   : On the orders of King Parakramabahu the Great, General Kit Nuwaragal invaded the city of Kusumiya in Ramannya Desa (present-day Pathein in Myanmar). To commemorate this victory king granted land in the extent of twelve Amunas and two Pelas from Malabatuva and Kitsen Pawwa, as permanently owned lands and this decree is effective until the sun and moon last
Reference : Paranavitana, 1933; The information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.

Devanagala rock inscription of Wimaladharmasooriya I
The second inscription belongs to the reign of King Wimaladharmasooriya I, but it refers to the year 2110 Buddhist Era (1566 A.D.) in connection with the foundation of the Devanagala Viharaya at the site by a Buddhist monk named Ratanalankara (Ranawella, 2015).

Reign  : Wimaladharmasooriya I (1591-1604 A.D.)
Period : 16-17th centuries A.D.
Script  : Sinhala
Language : Sinhala
Content   : The foundation of a monastery on this rock in 2110 B.E. by Ratanalankara and the benefactions made to it (grant of some land, a village named Ruwandeniya with its adjuncts) by King Wimaladharmasooriya I is recorded in the inscription.
Reference : Ranawella, 2015.

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas (the temples on pillars) were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps. The walls are usually made of wattle and daub and they form the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. Construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Devanagala Tempita Viharaya
Devanagala Tempita Viharaya
The Tampita Viharaya of Devanagala temple belongs to the Kandyan Period. A seated statue of Buddha underneath an elaborate Makara Thorana (the Dragon Arch) is found inside this shrine. One statue of Buddha and two statues of deities stand beside the seated Buddha. Two seated statues of Buddha are also found facing each other at both left and right walls. Presently, a new building has been built surrounding this Tempita Viharaya.

A protected site
The government notification : 12 December 1941.
The ancient Buddha shrine, sculptures, inscriptions, paintings and all other ruins at the premises of Devanagala Rajamaha Vihara situated on the Devanagala rock in Devanagalagama village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Mawanella are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government notification published on 12 December 1941.

The Gazette notification : 4 June 2004.
The Devanagala rock where the ancient Devanagala Raja Maha Viharaya is located is an archaeological protected site, declared by a government gazette notification published on 4 June 2004.

Devanagala Viharaya Devanagala Devanagala Vihara
1) Lord Budhda by Rajindu Prabath is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7.  p.79.
2) Aregama, H.M.S.K., 2018. Parakramabahu rajuge Buruma satanata pana pevu Devanagala parvatha lipiya (In Sinhala). Dayada Newsletter. July 2018. 12th edition. Department of Archaeology.pp.31,36.
3) Paranavitana, S., 1933. (Edited and translated by Wickremasinghe, D.M.D.Z.; Codrington, H.W.) Devanagala rock inscription of Parakramabahu I. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon :Vol. III. Printed at the Department of Government Printing, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for the Archeological Department. pp.312-325.
4) Ranawella, S., 2015. Inscriptions of Ceylon. (Vol. IX). Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-9159-98-8. pp.23-24.
5) Silva, K.T., Niwas, A., and Wickramasinghe, W.M.K.B., 2016. Religious Interface and Contestations between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies. pp.7-8.
6) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1344. 4 June 2004. p.14.
7) The government notification. No: 8827. 12 December 1941.

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A short note for local school students
දෙවනගල විහාරය

දෙවනගල විහාරය ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ කෑගල්ල දිස්ත්‍රික්කයේ මාවනැල්ල ප්‍රදේශයේ පිහිටි බෞද්ධ සිද්ධස්ථානයකි.

දෙවනගල ඉතිහාසය ප්‍රාග්ඓතිහාසික යුගයේ සිට මහනුවර යුගය දක්වා විහිදේ. ප්‍රාග්ඓතිහාසික යුගයට අයත් පුරාවිද්‍යා සාධක මෙම ස්ථානයෙන් හමුව තිබේ.

දෙවනගල පර්වතය මතවූ විහාරය අනුරාධපුර යුගයේ ධාතුසේන රාජ්‍ය සමයෙහි (ක්‍රි.ව. 460-479) ඉදිකල දාසෙන් වෙහෙර බැව් විශ්වාස කෙරේ. කෙසේනමුදු, පළමුවන විමලධර්මසූරිය රජුගේ (ක්‍රි.ව. 1592-1604) දෙවනගල සෙල්ලිපිය ප්‍රකාරව පර්වතය මත මෙම බෞද්ධ ආරාමය රතනාලංකාර නම් තෙරුන් විසින් බුද්ධ වර්ෂ 2110 (ක්‍රි.ව. 1566) කරවා තිබෙයි.

දෙවනගල පන්සලෙහි ටැම්පිට විහාරය මහනුවර යුගයේදී පළමුවන විමලධර්මසූරිය රජු විසින් කරවන්නට ඇතැයි පැවසෙයි. එසේම දන්ත ධාතූන් වහන්සේ මෙම විහාරස්ථානයෙහි තෙමසක කාලයක් පුරා රහසිගතව තැම්පත් කොට තිබූ බවද විශ්වාස කෙරේ.

පැරණි ගල් විහාරය, ටැම්පිට විහාරය, ස්තූපය, ධර්ම ශාලාව, සිරි පතුල, පොකුණ සහ බෝධිය ඇතුළු බෞද්ධ ස්මාරක ගණනාවක් වත්මන් දෙවනගල විහාර භූමියෙහි දැකගත හැකිය. පොළොන්නරුව යුගයට හා මහනුවර යුගයට අයත්වන ශිලා ලේඛන ද්විත්වයක් ප්‍රධාන වශයෙන් මෙහි හඳුනාගැනේ.

මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජුගේ දෙවනගල සෙල්ලිපිය (12වන සියවස)
දෙවනගලින් හමුවන ශිලා ලේඛන ද්විත්වය අතුරින් පොළොන්නරු සමයට අයත් ලේඛනය ඉතිහාසමය වශයෙන් ඉතා වැදගත් කොට සැළකෙයි. රජුගේ නියමය පරිදි රාමඤ්ඤ දේශයේ කුසුමියා (වත්මන් මියන්මාරයෙහි පාතේන් ප්‍රදේශය) නගරය ආක්‍රමණය කල කිත්-නුවරගල් (කිත්ති නගරගිරි) නම්වූ සෙනෙවිවරයෙකුට මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජු (ක්‍රි.ව. 1153-1186) විසින් මලබටුව හා කිත්සෙන් පව්ව ප්‍රදේශවලින් ප්‍රධානය කරන ලද ඉඩකඩම් හා එහි අයිතිය පිළිබඳ විස්තරයක් මෙම සෙල්ලිපියෙහි සඳහන් වේ.

පළමුවන විමළධර්මසූරිය රජුගේ දෙවනගල සෙල්ලිපිය (16-17වන සියවස්)
බුද්ධ වර්ෂ 2110දී රතනාලංකාර නම් තෙරුන් විසින් දෙවනගල මත විහාරයක් කරවූ බවත් පසුව ලකෙහි (ශ්‍රී ලංකාවෙහි) රජපැමිණි පළමුවන විමළධර්මසූරිය රජු විසින් සිදුකල යම් ඉඩකඩම් හා ඊට අනුබද්ධ ප්‍රධානයන් පිළිබඳ විස්තරයක් මෙම සෙල්ලිපියෙහි සඳහන්ය.

පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්මාරක ස්ථානය
1941 රජයේ නිවේදනය
මාවනැල්ල ප්‍රාදේශීය ලේකම් කොට්ඨාශයට අයත් දෙවනගලගම ග්‍රාමයේ දෙවනගල පර්වතයෙහි පිහිටි දෙවනගල රජමහා විහාර පරිශ්‍රයේ වූ පුරාණ බුද්ධ මන්දිරය, මූර්ති, සෙල්ලිපි, සිතුවම් හා අනෙකුත් සියළු නටඹුන් 1941 දෙසැම්බර් 12වන දින ප්‍රකාශයට පත් රජයේ නිවේදනය මගින් ආරක්ෂිත පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්මාරක ලෙස නම් කොට ඇත.

2004 රජයේ ගැසට් නිවේදනය
පුරාණ දෙවනගල රජමහා විහාරය පිහිටි දෙවනගල පර්වතය 2004 ජූනි 4වන දින ප්‍රකාශයට පත් රජයේ ගැසට් නිවේදනය මගින් ආරක්ෂිත පුරාවිද්‍යා ස්මාරක ස්ථානයක් ලෙස නම් කොට ඇත.

Monday, March 16, 2020


Hetadage (pronounce as Hætadage) is a relic shrine located in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

Hetadage building has been identified as the Temple of the Tooth built by King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.). The building is called Hetadage because it is said that it was built within sixty (Sinhalese) hours, i.e. one single day (Ray, 1960). In the Sinhalese Language, the word Hæta means sixty and Dage means relic shrine. However, another theory suggests that it is so named because it held sixty relics.

The building
Hatadage Hetadage was a two-storied building and is apparently a larger version of the design of the Atadage building (Prematilleke, 1990). The upper storey has now been destroyed and the brick and stone walls of the lower storey remain today. The sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha may have been deposited in the upper storey.

The edifice is standing within a stone-walled enclosure of about 120 ft long and 90 ft wide (Prematilleke, 1990; Ray, 1960). The wall had been constructed of brick and faced with irregular stone slabs on both sides (Prematilleke, 1990). A portico of the enclosure provides the entrance to the edifice and its passage had a roof supported on pillars (Prematilleke, 1990). After the portico, the main entrance to the edifice accompanied by a Sandakada Pahana (moonstone), Muragal (guard stones) and Korawak Gal (balustrades) is found. The main entrance leads to a small vestibule and at its left corner is a staircase of nine steps running to the upper storey which can not be seen today (Ray, 1960). Besides the main entrance, another smaller doorway is found on the eastern side of the edifice. 

After the vestibule is the Garbhagrha (sanctum) where three standing Buddha statues carved out of granite rock are found. The sanctum is square in shape and each of its sides is 47 ft in length [(externally) Ray, 1960].  A wide circumambulatory is also visible inside the sanctum. The roof of the edifice may have had wooden beams and covered with clay tiles.

Three inscriptions of King Nissankamalla are found among the stone slabs on the Hetadage walls: one in the porch and two in the shrine (Wickremasinghe, 1928). They were discovered by S.M. Burrows in 1885, while removing the debris from this site (Wickremasinghe, 1928). The inscriptions record about king's offerings, altruistic activities and also about the advice given to the community of Buddhist monks by him.

Reign        : Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.)
Period       : 12th century A.D.
Script        : Medieval Sinhala
Language : Medieval Sinhala
(Note: This section contains information directly extracted from the details given in the public information board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage.)

 Hetadage portico slab inscription

Hetadage portico slab inscription
The Dharma which gives happiness and which alone deserves to be honoured in the whole world should always be preserved.

King Nissankamalla was born in Sinhapura of Kalinga, of the womb of Queen Parvati unto Sri Jayagopa. In regular order, he was consecrated as the king of Sri Lanka. The king waived taxes for five years and did many meritorious acts. The king toured through the three kingdoms and promoted the welfare of the state and the Sasana. Although the king proceeded to Dambadiva (India) and demanded war the Pandyans and the Colas did not fight but sent gold, gifts, and maidens. Since there were no enemies in this world the king thought to win the enemies of the next world and did many meritorious acts. To venerate the Tooth Relic and Bowl Relic he offered his son Virabahu and his daughter Sarvanga Sundari and for the purpose of redeeming them caused to make a Stupa in gold. He also built Vatadageya, Nissanka Lata Pavillion and Nissanka Tooth Relic House and dedicated to them many villages, lands, and serfs.

May the future kings protect the Dharma and secure the welfare of both the worlds! Let it be thus understood by future kings that these are the virtuous sentiments of King Nissankamalla.

Hetadage vestibule wall inscription

Hetadage vestibule wall inscription
From the second year of accession, King Nissankamalla toured around Lanka including places such as Samanola (Sri Pada/Adam's peak). He freed the kingdom from lawlessness thoroughly, that a woman might even carry a casket filled with the nine kinds of gems and not be asked, 'what is that?'

After living in a palace built by another king for seven years and seven months he thought it does not fit for his (status). He erected within 45 days a palace of seven stories. He built a magnificent pavilion from which he watched elephant fights. The king built ramparts and gates, three stone pavilions and Kalinga Park. He got his queens from Kalinga, Vanga, Karnataka, Gujarati, etc. and built for them separate palaces.

In the three kingdoms, he erected palaces at several places and built stone thrones named 'Virasimhasana'. He suppressed various administrative injustices. In the cause of thus inspecting the three kingdoms in various ways, he fixed a Gavu (mileposts) calling it Nissanka-gavu (several of these have been found).

The king made annual donations (in coins) to the poor equivalent to weights of himself, Queen Subhadra, sub-queen Kalyana, sub-king Virabahu, minister Vikramabahu, Queen Candra, and their Highnesses Parvati and Sarvanga Sundari.

Hetadage inside wall inscription

Hetadage inside wall inscription
Although the venerable ones, teachers and preceptors practice the established doctrines and discipline, the kings are responsible for the protection of the Sasana of the country for the continuation of the religion for 5000 years. Accordingly, for the safety of the Sasana the king thus advises;
The venerable ones who are teachers and preceptors should not, without inquiry robe foolish, sinful, false and crafty persons.
They should not do improper things contrary to the teachings of the Buddha,
(The inscription is damaged and the rest cannot be read)

Hetadage Hetadage The three Buddha statues
1) Prematilleke, L., 1990. The architecture of the Polonnaruwa Period B.C.800-1200 A.D. Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief). Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume III: Architecture. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). pp.50-51.
2) Ray, H. C. (Editor in Chief), 1960. University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon (Vol 1, part II). Ceylon University Press. pp.573,599.
3) Wickremasinghe, D. M. D. Z., 1928. Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being lithic and other inscriptions of Ceylon (Vol, II). Published for the government of Ceylon by Humphrey Milford. pp.84-98. 

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This page was last updated on 5 March 2021
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